During Merci Iljooo on Thursday evening in ‘t Kuipke, world champion Remco Evenpoel paid a striking tribute to his teammate and friend Iljo Keisse, who said goodbye. “He was like a second father to me during my cycling career. I learned everything from him,” he said.
Tom Boonen, Philippe Gilbert and Patrick Lefevere. During Merci Iljooo in ‘t Kuipke they all took the floor to indicate their appreciation for their teammate and friend Iljo Keisse. But especially world champion Remco Evenepoel stole the show and paid a striking tribute.
“When I came over from the juniors straight to the pros in 2019, Iljo took me under his wing. ljo was a father figure in my starting cycling career. I really look up to him, on and off the bike. Iljo really taught me everything. I am grateful for that. Thanks.”
Keisse was visibly emotional about Evenepoel’s words. The pro world champion also brought a special gift for his teammate and friend. A large printed photo of their last race together Binche-Chimay-Binche, when they crossed the finish line together.
At the end of Merci Iljo, Evenpoel was also involved in the celebration of Keisse. He was also called to the podium and now officially crowned Keisse as the Emperor of ‘t Kuipke. The Gentenaar got on his knees and visibly enjoyed the moment. Then followed a hug.